Why should you join a local church?

Every now and again, as a Pastor, I get asked,

Why should I join a local church? I mean, I’m a Christian, which means I’m a part of the universal church. I attend church semi-regularly. Why do I have to join a local church?

For the most part, that’s an honest question. And an honest question deserves an honest answer. So:

Why should you join a local church?

I believe there are several reasons. Let’s look closer at those now.

(1) God has commanded it in Scripture. 

The writer of Hebrews says,

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb 10:24–25)

First things first. God has commanded us to join together with one another. Since we are commanded to gather together for the purposes of helping one another grow in love and good works, we aren’t to neglect that activity. In order to know which people you are to gather with, you need to commit to them. You show your commitment by joining that particular church.

(2) God has given us the local church as a place where you can:

  • Use your spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12; 14; Eph 4)
  • Learn more about Him (Joshua 1:8; Ps 1:2; 112:1; Matt. 4:4)
  • Be held accountable and be helped to grow in your spiritual walk (Heb. 13:7, 17; 1 Jn 5:14-15; 1 Tim. 2:8; Eph. 6:16-18; James 5:16; Phil. 1:15-18; Gal. 2:11-16; Col. 1:21-23)
  • As well as it is a place through which you can serve others and the community (1 Tim. 5:3-16; Acts 6:1-7; James 1:27; Matt. 28: 18-20; John 6:35-40)

It is hard to do those things if you aren’t a member of a church. That’s because people in the church don’t know if you want them to hold you accountable or not. The leadership doesn’t know if you want them to shepherd and guide you spiritually. Nor does the church as a whole know if you want them to help you use your spiritual gifts.

In reality, you may not even be given the opportunity to use all your spiritual gifts if you aren’t a member. At the church I pastor, if you aren’t a member, you can’t head up a ministry, you can’t teach, you can’t serve on different committees, nor can you be a Deacon. We aren’t the only church that limits people in these ways. Many churches limit non-members ability to serve.

So for those reasons, I believe it is important you join a local church.

When I say local, I mean local.

I know it’s popular to attend a church with a big name celebrity pastor. Generally, they have more resources, deliver better sermons, and produce better content. They didn’t garner the following they have without being able to do those things. While it’s fine to attend those churches, I’m not against big churches or celebrity pastors, I don’t think you should drive out of your local area to do so. I say that because doing so will generally make attending weekly worship services and other church activities a burden. I don’t know about you, but I usually don’t do that which is a burden consistently.

When you aren’t attending regularly, you usually aren’t serving, holding others accountable and being held accountable, or serving the community. Instead, you become a pew sitting consumer who shows up a couple of times a month. When I read Hebrews 10, I don’t think that is the type of gathering together with one another the author had in mind.

Question for Reflection

  1. What are your thoughts on local church membership?

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Post adapted from my sermon: What is the Church and Why is it Important?

Do You Worship Out of a Sense of Duty or Thankfulness?

In Psalm 50, Asaph confronts Israel regarding their worship and living. What they were doing isn’t much different from what many do today. Their worship was formulaic. In other words, they were going through the motions. Sure, they brought the appropriate sacrifices, but it was done more out of a sense of duty instead of thanksgiving.

Many Do the Same Today

To our shame, many today view the Sunday worship service as nothing more than another box to check off on their spiritual checklist right alongside their morning prayer and devotion. Thinking that way, we drag ourselves to the Sunday Service, sing a few songs, bow for the pastoral prayer, greet our neighbors, place some money in the offering plate, listen to the sermon, and then we are on our way, patting ourselves on the back for a job well done. Why do we do this?

Why Do We Worship Out of Duty?

We worship out of duty because we think that is what God wants or needs. But that is far from the truth. God doesn’t need us, our provisions, or our worship. He owns everything, and He is satisfied in and of Himself. The truth is, we need God. We need His provisions and care.

The Gospel Changes Our Perspective

Instead of faking it, what we need to do is change our perspective. The way we do that is by meditating on the gospel.

The gospel tells us we are sinners, who have rebelled against and offended a holy God. As a result, we are destined to suffer His wrath. However, Jesus came, lived a perfect life, and, even though He didn’t deserve God’s wrath, He faced it on our behalf. He took the wrath we deserve on Himself. All those who repent of their sins and believe Jesus suffered the punishment we deserve, can experience a restored relationship with the Father free from the fear of judgment.

For Jesus’ sacrifice, we should be thankful. For God’s provision and care in our life, we should be thankful. Our thankfulness should drive us to worship God. So when we begin to go through the motions in worship, what we need to do is stop, meditate on the gospel, and remember God’s provisions.

We need to reset our heart, so we see that it’s not God who needs us, but we who need Him.

When we truly see our need for God and how He has provided for us, we should be driven to worship out of a sense of thankfulness instead of duty. When we worship from a right heart, we end up glorifying God. For He says in Psalm 50:23

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (Ps. 50:23)

Question for Reflection

  1. Does thankfulness or duty drive your worship?

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Learning the Art of Waiting is Worth It

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.” (Ps 40:1–3)

Gone are the days when we have to take a trip to the local store for groceries, clothes, movies, or other goods. In our always connected digital world, we can have them delivered to our house the same day or watch on demand. There are advantages to be sure. We can get more done, relax longer, and play more with our kids.

Our Patience is Growing Thin

However, there are also disadvantages. One is that our patience grows thin. You know what I am talking about, if our movie buffers or our item isn’t delivered in a couple of hours, we feel slighted, and we take to social media to instantly complain about our mistreatment.

A Thin Patience Affects Our Relationship with God

But a diminished patience not only leads us to complain more about companies online, it also leads us to complain more about God.

We think God must work like the companies we both admire and complain about. He must cater to our needs instantly. The benefits of waiting are lost on us.

This negatively affects our spiritual growth and leads to diminished worship. Instead of praising the Lord when He comes through, we say, “Finally, what took you so long.” Instead of leading others to worship God for His faithfulness, we complain, drawing others away instead of towards God.

Learning the Art of Waiting is Worth It

Waiting for the Lord to deliver or answer us is difficult, but it is worth it. God’s plan is greater than ours. His timing is perfect. Recognizing that helps us to see that this world isn’t all about us, our wants, and our desires. Instead, it’s about God, His plan, His will, and His purposes for this world and our life.

While it is hard for us to wait, there is a lot we can learn during that time, so may we learn to wait on the Lord, and may we praise Him even more when He answers us.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you believe our instant society is affecting your relationship with God?

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